Red Cross faces ‘urgent need’ for blood, offers free COVID-19 testing for donors

Updated: Jul. 19, 2020 at 5:18 PM CDT
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BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - Right now, there’s an urgent need for blood donations as America’s blood supply runs low during the coronavirus pandemic.

Stacey Maurer knows how important it is to give blood.

“I’ve been a nurse almost 20 years, and I spent the majority of my time in the ER, and I know there’s a need, and I see what we do, and I see what the blood donors give,” she said.

She was one of the dozens of people at Sunday’s Red Cross blood drive, hosted at Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church.

The blood drive helping to fill a critical need for blood.

“With surgeries starting to happen again, and people going back into hospitals for different reasons, getting treatments, there’s always a need for blood, so we want to make sure that we are collecting enough blood to make sure that those patients in need have that,” said Denise Smith, account manager for the American Red Cross.

Donors are also able to have their blood tested for COVID-19 antibodies.

“It’s just another way that we’re making sure that the blood supply is a safer blood supply, and it’s a way for us to let our donors know something else for them to have that benefit of to knowing that they were exposed to it, they have healed from it, or they didn’t actually end up having symptoms to it, and that they are healthiest. It’s a good thing that people want to know these days,” Smith said.

Those with the antibodies are encouraged to donate plasma.

“Knowing that you were actually exposed to it and that you have those antibodies can actually turn into a possible donation of convalescent plasma, which can help patients further who are still battling COVID,” she said.

The Red Cross said they were able to collect around 50 units of blood Sunday. Donors are grateful for the opportunity to help others.

“I like to give back into the community, and especially during this COVID thing, if I can help in any way I can, I really like to do that,” said Jennifer Koon Fink.

The Red Cross is hosting blood drives throughout the week. For more information, visit their website.

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